In Christianity, we acknowledge that God is the Creator of all that was, all that is, and all that will be. In spite of this, I think we fail to give God credit for one of my favorite parts of creation: REST.
The genesis of rest is Genesis.
I know there is a lot of consternation and disagreement over the first two chapters of Genesis. Can you do me a small favor and let those worries go for just a minute? Whether you think Genesis is literal, metaphorical, or allegorical, this point stands.
In case you aren’t familiar with the basic narrative, it goes something like this: God created the world in six days and, on the seventh day, God rested.
The Genesis creation story is unique among ancient writings for how it presents the dignity of humankind. Other ancient creation stories present humans as a nuisance to the gods, an amusement for the gods, or as workers created to relieve the gods of manual labor. By contrast, in Genesis humans are an integral part of a creation that is “very good.”
In Genesis, God created humans and then God created … rest.
Wait, what happened on the seventh day?
One writer, Patricia Bays, explains it this way:
To us rest sounds like doing nothing. To those who have to work until they are exhausted … rest is an activity of sheer bliss. … [However] the seventh day is not a day apart from creation, but the time of the creation of the act of rest.
We miss something if we characterize God’s decision to rest on the sabbath as a reward for six days of hard work. God is not described as recuperating from exhaustion on the seventh day. There’s no indication that God took a day off in response to feeling overworked.
After creating everything else, God created rest.
Have you ever thought about it this way? God created something on the seventh day – rest. Why? Patricia Bays says, “The Sabbath, in the Israelite calendar, is not a day of inactivity, but a day when work is not done so that rest may be done. As a celebration of the covenant [between God and humanity], the Sabbath was especially seen as the day of recreation, of being restored to the very basis of life.”
Rest is a time for recreation, literally Re-Creation. God created rest so that we can be restored.
Which leads me to ask: what am I doing to create rest in my own life?
Understanding that rest doesn’t just happen, has caused me to reorganize my calendar. Instead of expecting to “rest when I can,” I’m more diligent about scheduling work hours and rest hours (especially during the pandemic!).
I’ve had to adjust my mindset. Instead of seeing rest as something I have to earn, I try to see it as something I have to create.
When I can remember that rest isn’t simply the absence of activity, but the act of re-creation and restoration, it’s much easier to see how worthwhile—even essential—it is to me.
In other words, I have to create rest so that I can be re-created and restored.
What about you? Are you good at resting? Have you ever thought about God creating rest? What is the purpose of rest in your life? Do you have a calendering technique you’d love to share? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook or Twitter.
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